In the 1944 film Gas Light, Gregory manipulated his wife, Paula to a point where she no longer trusts her own sense and perceptions of reality. In the main scene of the movie, Gregory causes the gaslights in the house to flicker by turning them on. When Paula asks Gregory why this is happening, Gregory tells her it’s all in her head – that the gaslights are not really flickering. Thus, causing her to doubt herself.
It was then the term gaslighting was born.
It is now a popular term used to explain toxic relationships and it’s a term used all the time. But what exactly does this term mean?
Gaslighting is described as an act of manipulation. It is usually manipulation in the form of forcing or convincing someone to question themselves and their reactions – even their sanity! After a conversation with someone who is gaslighting you, you end up wondering if something is wrong with you – when actually that is not the case.
Are you crazy?
Are you sane?
Are you wrong about how you are perceiving the situation?
Gaslighting is seen in all types of relationships. It can be seen between colleagues in the workplace, between bosses and subordinates, between parents and child, friends, and between couples.
How can someone gaslight you? Gaslighting tactics include:
2. Discrediting you and your behavior, reactions
3. Minimizing your feelings, emotions, and thoughts
4. Deflecting blame
5. Denying doing anything wrong
6. Shifting the blame off of themselves
When gaslighting is prolonged and frequent, it can trigger anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges.
So, how can you tell if you or someone else is experiencing gaslighting? Here are some signs:
1. You frequently second guess our ability to remember details of past events.
2. You feel confused and disoriented.
3. You feel threatened and on edge around this person but do not know exactly why you feel this way
4. You never feel good enough around this person and constantly try to live up to their expectations and demands
5. You constantly feel the need to apologize for just being yourself
6. You constantly feel isolated, hopeless, misunderstood, and judged
7. You stop trusting yourself and your judgement, which starts to impact your decision making
8. You are scared that something is wrong with you
9. You are scared of speaking up for yourself
10. You start wondering, “Am I being too sensitive?”
If you are reading this right now and feel you are a victim of gaslighting, we understand that it is difficult to pull yourself out of this situation. With the gaslighter constantly picking away at your self-esteem and confidence, it’s difficult to think that change is possible and that things can get better.
It can! Please reach out to a mental health professional for help. You are not alone!